Brazilian president's approval up slightly after protest slump

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 10, 2013 12:17 PM
Brazilian president's approval up slightly after protest slump

By Caroline Stauffer

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's approval rating gained six percentage points since hitting an all-time low in late June after massive nationwide protests, a poll published on Saturday showed.

The number of respondents who said they intended to vote for her in next year's election also rose by five percentage points, according to the Datafolha opinion poll published in local newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

Thirty-six percent of Brazilians considered Rousseff's administration "great" or "good," up from 30 percent in late June.

The recovery, though still far below the 65 percent approval rate she had in March, reflects slightly more confidence in Brazil's economy as concerns about inflation ease.

Rousseff once had one of the highest approval ratings of any leaders in the Western hemisphere.

Rousseff now has 35 percent of voting intentions, up from 30 percent in the previous poll, according to Datafolha, which concluded she would not win in a first round vote.

In a similar survey conducted in December, Rousseff had 54 percent of voting intentions.

Former Environment Minister Marina Silva appears to be gaining ground with voters, rising to 26 percent of intended votes from 23 percent. Minas Gerais Senator Aecio Neves had 13 percent of votes compared with 17 percent in June.

The poll also showed Brazilians are less supportive of the mass protests that drew 1 million to the streets at their peak in mid-June.

The number of Brazilians who said the protests had resulted in positive changes fell to 49 percent from 65 percent in Datafolha's last poll.

The demonstrations dealt with a range of issues including corruption, poor transportation and the amount of money being spent to host the 2014 soccer World Cup. Some say they lacked focus.

The 27 percentage point drop in Rousseff's approval in just three weeks that Datafolha reported on June 29, after the protests, was the sharpest suffered by a Brazilian leader since 1990.

Rousseff's approval rate rose in July and early August in all geographical areas and is higher among lower income groups, her Worker's Party base. But the number of Brazilians who intend to vote for her rose the most in the southeast, the wealthiest part of the country.

The number of Brazilians who consider Rousseff's administration "bad" or "terrible" fell to 22 percent from 25 percent five weeks earlier, the poll said.

The approval rating of her economic team, led by Finance Minister Guido Mantega and central bank president Alexandre Tombini, rose slightly to 30 percent from 27 percent a month earlier.

Pessimism over inflation, which has been increasing since December according to the poll, was nearly stable at 54 percent from 53 percent a month earlier.

Inflation slowed sharply in July after authorities in several cities and states rolled back public transport fare increases following the protests.

But it is still a delicate moment for Brazil's economy, which barely expanded last year, and the government is betting on an ambitious agenda of infrastructure projects to return to sustained growth in coming years.

Optimism over employment improved even though data showed Brazil's jobless rate rose in June to the highest level since April 2012. The poll said 39 percent believe the jobless rate will rise more, down from 44 percent previously.

The poll, conducted August 7-9, surveyed 2,615 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Sandra Maler)